FLINT, Mich. – If you glanced around either locker room Wednesday night at Perani Arena, you were sure to see ice packs, bandages and trainers scurrying to tend to injured players.
The Flint Generals’ 7-6 Game 3 overtime victory over the Komets, who lead the best-of-seven Turner Cup Finals 2-1, was physical and took its toll on the players.
And that was just what the fourth-seeded Generals wanted.
We had to do it, said the Generals’ John Mori, whose race to the puck helped set up Jamie Schaafsma for the game-winning goal. The first two games we weren’t as physical, but (Wednesday) we came out finishing every hit. The biggest thing is: You don’t have to put somebody into the third row; you just have to finish your hits, get some body checks, get little hits here or there. Sometimes they’ll cough the puck up, and that’s hockey.
Sure enough, most of the Generals’ goals started with a turnover by the second-seeded Komets.
Not surprisingly, more players seemed to be limping after the game than those who weren’t, and that was the case in both locker rooms.
It’s a little bit of a smaller rink, and they are going to try to hit our guys, said Komets center Justin Chwedoruk, who scored two goals, bettered only by teammate Matt Syroczynski’s three.
Chaulker (Colin Chaulk) got hit a ton. Syro got hit, too. They’re going to try to hit our star players. You can’t blame them for doing that, but we’ve got to hit them right back and just come out firing.
While the Komets, who are chasing a third straight Turner Cup championship, aren’t a team to shy from the physical play, they don’t want to start taking penalties. That was reaffirmed Wednesday – the Generals’ Bryan Smolinski forced overtime on a power-play goal with 9.8 seconds remaining in regulation time.
Oh, yeah, (the Generals) played their game plan great, said Syroczynski, who leads the IHL with nine goals in 10 playoff games. There were slashes, scrums, hits behind the whistle. That’s the game they want to play. Toward the middle of the game, we stayed away from that. Toward the end, we got back to it. We’ve just got to let that stuff go. It’s not our game.
The Komets’ game is based on stingy defensive play. During the regular season, the Komets gave up a league-low 2.41 goals per game. In the playoffs, it’s ballooned to 2.8 goals per game. In this series, it’s 3.3 per game going into tonight’s game at Perani Arena.
We’ve just got to regroup and come back here, try to go up 3-1 in (the series after) the next game, Chwedoruk said. We know we can win here because we took it to overtime (Wednesday). We’ve got to regroup and come back and get them. We knew this was going to be a battle, and you’ve got to overcome adversity. Nothing ever comes easy. We know that, and we’ll bounce back.